Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I would spend all my afternoons after school and summer days in my grandparents’ house while waiting for my parents pick me up after work. Things did not change much over the years, I would still spend free afternoons and every Sunday with them.

Fast forward to 24 years later, to 2007, it was pretty much the same except that lola passed away suddenly. After that, we dedicated even more time to my lolo. He was still strong, he would go to the gym, his clinic and mass every day. He was a brilliant surgeon and a great teacher. He was wise and patient, he always had good advice or input on whatever I would talk to him about.

However, after the loss of my lola, he started to slow down in his activities. We moved into his house to make sure that we could take care of him and spend even more time with him. In his last five years, he really slowed down. He had trouble walking, needed assistance to do his daily tasks and eventually spent most of his time sleeping. It was difficult to see him get weaker and weaker. It was frustrating to not have him engaged in conversations like we used to. As much as he tried to keep up, he listened and remembered my stories but he could not express himself as well. It made me feel sad and helpless to see him so weak.

A lot of the time, it was scary thinking that this would be the last day or time I would see him when I would say good night. On other days, it became difficult to spend time with him because he would interact less, it could at times be boring and I would think that I could be doing something more fun. However, after his passing late last year, I have come to reflect on the extra time I spent with him, was for me to learn from his example on how to age gracefully.

It was difficult for me to watch him weaken but it must have been even more difficult for him to have to rely on us for everything. Even in my lolo’s old age, he was an example on how to accept whatever God’s plan is for us. He remained humble and courageous, he may have struggled with his pride sometimes but he still allowed us to help him and would not complain of the pain or his hardships. Each day we had with him was a blessing. I learned that our time here on earth, our time with our loved ones, our strength and health are all blessings from God and something not to be taken for granted. I am truly thankful for the time spent with my grandparents and I pray that we will all be blessed with the gift of time with our families and loved ones.